Twenty Four Hours on Clubhouse

This cold open was originally featured in the January 6, 2021 newsletter found here:

Twenty Four Hours on Clubhouse

The social media world is abuzz with the latest new entrant and contestant for our attention, the audio app Clubhouse. What is it? It’s a cross between chat rooms and talk radio, like a never-ending conference where new sessions to listen to pop up all the time. Participants can start new rooms and discuss with their friends and followers pretty much whatever they want.

As with all other social networks, it obeys the basic conventions of following people and having people follow you.

Having been on it for a little more than a day and participated in a variety of conversations, some initial thoughts and questions were answered.

  1. Will it be big? Honestly, not in its current form. Clubhouse is appointment media, which means you need to be there at specific times, in specific rooms, if you want to catch the benefit of some of the shows. There are no official recordings of any kind, so you can’t go back and listen later. It’s also Apple/iOS only at the moment, so it’s not even accessible to Android users.
  2. Is it valuable? It depends on what kind of value you want. If you enjoy a social atmosphere and the ability to meet new people in a very conversational way, you’ll probably find value in it. On the other hand, if the sound of people talking over each other makes you grit your teeth, it’s definitely not an experience you’ll enjoy. It’s a series of really long conference calls, when you boil away all the hype.
  3. Should your brand/company be there? Nope. There’s little to no marketing value at the organizational level yet. We’ll see how that changes; right now, there’s also no obvious revenue model but clear costs for the company – lots and lots of bandwidth costs (though no storage costs because nothing is recorded), and accounts are tied to individual device phone numbers – a risky proposition if you have an account tied to an employee’s device.
  4. Why is there so much hype about it among some social media marketers? Like any early social network, the opportunity to connect with people you might not otherwise have access to is part of the appeal. This is true of any high-profile social network and part of the recruiting mechanism – you could talk with X prominent person briefly, whereas you might not even get the time of day from their gatekeepers otherwise. If you recall, in the early days when Instagram rolled out direct messaging, for a brief time you could have actual DM conversations with prominent people you liked and connected with.
  5. Should you try it? Yes, if you’ve received an invite. It’s worth peeking and seeing if it’s something you find valuable, if someone has extended you an invite. For some people, there will great value and enjoyment. For others, not so much. Given that it costs no money presently, there’s no harm in seeing if it’s for you or not.

The Big Picture View of Clubhouse

With any new social network, evaluating it and whether it makes sense to be on it is part and parcel of our jobs as marketers. The key thing to keep in mind is whether the new shiny object offers you something that you can’t get anywhere else and whether that thing it offers is valuable to you, individually or as an organization. Clubhouse has value to some individuals and almost no value to organizations right now, and for some folks, that has incredible appeal. It will not last long; every app and company has to make money somehow, and that time will soon come for Clubhouse and any new social network entrant.

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